Campaign to create East London’s first wild swimming pond launches petition to save land from developers – Hackney Citizen

The disused site that volunteers are hoping to purchase, captured using a drone. Photograph: Jonathan Perugia

The team behind plans for East London’s first wild swimming pond has launched a petition to save the site from a government-backed development.

The East London Waterworks Park (ELWP) campaign has been made aware of the Department for Education’s intention to submit a planning application.

The government has said it intends to use the land to build a “secure facility for children”.

In response, ELWP submitted a freedom of information request to the government, asking: “If this is the only site in the entire Greater London area that a secure facility for children can be built on, why are the developers failing to provide evidence that this is the case?”

The developers refused to respond, saying the site selection analysis cannot be shared because it is currently “in draft” and “still being developed”.

The land is a disused, ex-Thames Water depot on Lea Bridge Road, and ELWP has plans to turn it into what they call a “brownfield rainforest”.

An illustration of the vision for the site. Image: courtesy ELWP

The ambitious proposals include wild swimming in the Victorian filter beds, conservation volunteering, a forest school, and a community hub. The facilities would be accessible to all for free.

ELWP is a crowdfunded initiative that has, since 2019, galvanised the support of more than 5,000 people in the local community who have collectively raised more than half a million pounds to buy the site.

Five years later, it has a circulated a petition in opposition to the planned development.

The petition currently has two thirds of the signatures of its 6,400 goal.

Last year, while in her previous role as parks chief, Hackney Mayor Caroline Woodley said: “We warmly welcome this vision of sustainability, decarbonisation and nature recovery.”

She continued: “Bringing back open water and returning this site to nature would offer Hackney and Waltham Forest residents greater access to green and blue infrastructure.

“We know we need community partnership across London to become green and resilient, and this project sets a truly inspiring precedent.”

The Citizen has approached Mayor Woodley for comment, and to asked if she intends to sign the petition, but she is yet to respond.

You can find the petition here.

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